Israeli security emphasis on Friday prayers amid concerns of Temple Mount riots

Large numbers of police forces are deployed in the capital in light of security estimates that Palestinian rioters will cause disturbances on the Temple Mount compound and in east Jerusalem.

Muslims pray at Temple Mount (photo credit: REUTERS)
Muslims pray at Temple Mount
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Large numbers of police forces were deployed Friday morning throughout Jerusalem in light of security establishment estimates that Palestinian rioters will cause disturbances on the Temple Mount compound and in east Jerusalem, and will call for lone terrorist attacks during the Passover holiday.
While security forces will focus efforts on Muslim Friday prayers at the Temple Mount, a bolstered deployment in the capital will remain throughout the week.
Police have said that nothing is being left to chance when tens of thousands of Jews and Christians gather in the Old City for Passover.
Over 3,500 police officers from a range of units – including Counterterrorism, Undercover, and Special Patrol – will be deployed throughout the capital, with an emphasis on the Old City, where large-scale ceremonies will be held.
The Ceremony of the Holy Fire in the Christian Quarter and the Priestly Blessing (Birkat Kohanim) service at the Western Wall are expected to be the largest events of the holidays.
On Thursday night, the IDF imposed a general closure on the West Bank and shut down Gaza border crossings. The closure will continue throughout the Passover period, the military announced on Thursday.
The decision came following instructions with the government, as well as a security evaluation, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said. The closure will be lifted on April 23 at 11:59 pm, "in line with a [security] evaluation," the IDF added.
Meanwhile, Israel's security establishment has raised its level of alert in preparation for a feared rise in terrorist attacks during the Passover holiday, which starts on Friday evening.
According to estimates, the various gatherings of crowds during the holiday present targets that are more available and "valuable" for terrorists.
Therefore, IDF forces in the West Bank and police in Jerusalem will be bolstered during the period.
"We must make sure that the gatherings do not become targets for terror attacks," The Jerusalem Post's sister publication Ma'ariv quoted a security source as saying. "The weather is better, there are more people traveling, and more people outside."
"We are prepared for a significant escalation during the holiday period," the security source added. "We have had a relative calm streak, but we are preparing for an escalation to break out - and the timing is [during] the holiday period."
Security forces this year will be dispatched to warn travelers against accidental entrance into Area A of the West Bank.
In addition, Route 10 which runs along Israel's border with Egypt, the northern Gaza Strip and the Sayerim junction in the South will remain closed depending on the situation during Passover.
Yaakov Lappin and Noam Amir/Maariv Hashavua contributed to this report.